Sally: A mastectomy discovered what mammograms and MRI's missed

My name is Sally Pietig. I also carry the BRCA1 gene. I'm a wife, mother, sister, dental hygienist and I have breast cancer at 34 years old. Here is my story...

By Sally Pietig

My mom had breast cancer when she was 38(alive now at 62)and her sister died at 54 of ovarian cancer. Neither were ever tested for the gene. At my OB-GYNs request, I had had genetic counseling in previous years, but had declined having the test done.

Going in for a check-up in November of 2011, my doctor urged me to have the test done, she thought it was a good idea. I had the blood test without consulting with my husband. I felt guilty and told them to hold it until I got an extended life insurance policy. The test came back positive in early 2012.

In December of 2012, I scheduled a routine MRI. The test came back that abnormalities needed biopsies. The first biopsy I had done came back inconclusive, so I had a biopsy under MRI. The test came back negative. (Along with this I also had multiple mammograms.)

The breast surgeon suggested preventative mastectomies as the only prevention. My OB-GYN said the same. The breast surgeon suggested I consult with a plastic surgeon. He said the same thing, Preventative mastectomies were the only way to go.

We scheduled my surgery for April 25, 2013. I went into the surgery cancer free. I was given the diagnosis of breast cancer after the surgery. The surgeon had removed my breasts and my left lymph nodes. She said I had 3 cancerous tumors in my left breast. She came back later that night to tell me she was sorry but I also had 2 cancerous tumors in my right breast.

I'd have to come back the following week to have my right nodes removed. May 3rd I met with the oncologist to get the news on the cancer. They called it invasive ductal and told me all the details. The margins of the tumors were clean and it hadn't gone to the lymph nodes. The tumors were a stage 3 aggressive cancer. If I hadn't taken the preventative road, my cancer may have
been untreatable.

May 9th, I had my port put in and may 17th I had my first of eight chemo treatments. I have chemo every other week. I'm on seven of eight treatments. The first 4 treatments left me sick on the couch or in bed. It was really hard to lose my hair, but I've gotten caps, scarves and a wig. I've just gone back to work full time last week.

My kids and husband have had a hard time, but are doing well. My church family has stepped up with meals, housework, child care, etc. I have one surgery to go, port out, ovaries out and expanders out/implants in. I believe My OB-GYN helped in saving my life. I also believe prayer and Gods voice urged me to ultimately have preventative mastectomies.

I'm alive today and I will be a breast cancer survivor.

Sally Pietig
Bloomington, MN

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